The Rundown: Backed into a corner

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

What a week for the Jets defense.

The largest question mark on the defense got a little larger with the injuries to Dee Milliner and Dexter McDougle, two of Rex Ryan’s top four cornerbacks go to the sideline due to injuries. McDougle tore his left ACL and won’t see the field this season, and ascending starter Dee Milliner was diagnosed with a high left ankle sprain and might take the rest of the preseason off as a result.

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Is Antonio Allen the keystone holding this depleted unit together?

Ryan had a stiff upper lip on Sunday when he addressed the media.

“I am not a new coach to those kinds of situations,” Ryan said. “I have had to deal with them in the past. Adversity to some is opportunity to others. We will put the best eleven out there. We will be able to play defense. We have a lot of good football players …. we will be fine.”

But what if they aren’t? Brian Costello of the New York Post writes that should the defense falter this season and Rex Ryan be fired the team’s GM should go with him.

What once was the strength of the Jets when Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie manned the position from 2010-12 has become the weakness and it could wind up costing Ryan his job if this team misses the playoffs because their secondary can’t stop a nosebleed, as Ryan likes to say.

If it does, Idzik should be shown the door with him for ignoring such a glaring weakness this offseason.

The situation was worrisome before Sunday’s injuries when the plan was to start Milliner, coming off a rough rookie season, and Dimitri Patterson, who is on the seventh team of his 10-year career and has a history of injuries.

Now it has become dire.

Dire enough to lowball an offer to free agent Asante Samuel?

As of Monday, Milliner might not even be ready for the season opener, according to the AP.

New York Jets cornerback Dee Milliner has a sprained left ankle that could sideline him for a few weeks, jeopardizing his availability for the regular-season opener.

One-fourth of the team’s top four corners are in game-shape.  In addition to Milliner and McDougle, Dimitri Patterson is recovering from his own injuries, some of which might or might not include second degree burns caused WR Colts receiver TY Hilton.

So, the Jets are putting their backups forward, writes Darryl Slater in the Star-Ledger.

If Milliner misses the opener, Rex Ryan might have to pair Walls or Lankster with Dimitri Patterson. Ryan has liked some things he’s seen from Walls and Lankster. But neither is a starting-caliber player. In the initial team period Sunday, Walls was on the field with Milliner, before Milliner’s injury. Lankster later joined the starters, after Milliner went down.

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What does Rex Ryan have up his sleeve this time?

Time to panic?  Again the AP:

Despite losing his top cornerback, coach Rex Ryan says “it’s not a panic situation.” He says the team will try several players at the position, including versatile safety Antonio Allen.

Apparently Rex Ryan does not define ‘panic situation’ as ‘moving your most athleticish-slash-veteranish safety’ into the melee, via Costello in the Post.

[Antonio] Allen was moved from safety to cornerback on Monday, and now he will start there in Saturday’s preseason game with the Bengals.

“What the heck? Let’s put him out there,” coach Rex Ryan said. “They have a pretty decent kid out there.”

A.J. Green is one of the best receivers in football, so Allen will have his hands full.

“If he can cover that kid, then he can cover them all,” Ryan said. “If he can cover that kid, then we know we’re in good shape because that guy’s about as good as it gets. I think our entire fan base would sleep a lot better.

While we’ve really liked the Jets back-half of the roster at corner heading into this season, does this move belie how Rex really feels about his secondary?

Outside the organization, many are clamoring about what the Jets should have done at cornerback this past offseason.  Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Alterraun Verner … yes the team had the money and the means to bring in a player of their skill, but they took a gamble on building a secondary of young guns and that plan might be impacted now by the injuries.  Either way, bringing in DRC isn’t an option anymore and all the Jets can do is move forward.

We credit Ryan for his inventiveness by using the preseason time he has left to see if Antonio Allen can step up into a vastly different role.  Maybe that’s why he’s soaking up those reps now in front of players like Darrin Walls, Ellis Lankster or Ras-I Dowling. Rex knows what he has there, but allowing Allen to be the secondary’s “sixth man” might provide scheme versatility that we can’t even comprehend yet.

Rex has crowed about his depth at safety and of the group of safeties the team has, Allen is by far the best equipped to jump into the corner rotation.

Bent wrote about Allen earlier this week in a must-read on the secondary.

I’m not completely sold on Allen as a safety or in zone coverages, but where he shows fantastic potential is in man-to-man coverage. Therefore, perhaps the move to cornerback makes sense on some level, although I’d still expect it to be matchup specific due to his lack of ideal speed to matchup with speedsters on the outside (he ran a 4.58 forty at the combine)

If we know one thing about Ryan, it is that he loves employing man coverage.  While Allen might not have a lot of history there, the former Gamecock is strong, functionally fast (though not timed forty fast) and has that physical oomph! that Ryan loves.

In many ways, AJ Green would be the perfect test of Ryan’s A² gamble.  This week against one of the league’s best and biggest, but never the league’s fastest receiver.

At 6’4″ and over 210 pounds, Green is functionally fast for his size.  He ran a 4.5 second 40 yard dash during the 2011 NFL Combine.

That matches up well for Allen, who is also large and strong with some functional speed.  We fully expect that if Allen were to play corner during regular season, he would get a lot of help over the top.  But Ryan might want to see how far he can push Allen against the apex-player of the perfect matchup for Allen.

The point being, if Allen is pressed into corner service for a while, he won’t be playing A.J. Greens every week and so Rex will know just how much coverage help he’ll need to dial up for Allen in a worst-case scenario.

To us, moving Allen to the outside is like when Ryan set up his “Trufant Island” on Wes Welker two years ago; it is an unexpected wrinkle that is just crazy enough that it could work.

We’ve written for months about our approval of the Jets depth at cornerback.  The rash of injuries in the secondary this summer is not remotely a scenario that we envisioned playing out a month from the Jets season, but one way or another we are going to find out how good (or bad) they truly are.

The secondary has always been an important element to Rex’s defense, but it is not as if Rex isn’t used to working with an undermanned unit.  In Rex’s first year with the team, Jim Leonhard and Lito Sheppard were starters in his scheme.  Eric Smith was a starter later on.  He’s done it before and he can do it again.

The big difference will be the players that are ahead of the secondary.  They know now, more than ever that their job is to provide as much suppressing fire as they can for their littler brethren behind them.

It might not always be pretty until the Jets secondary gets hale and healthy again, but we think that the Jets will be able to muddle through until then.




246 comments
Alec Wilson
Alec Wilson

Reading this thread sometimes I wonder if certain folk really enjoy when bad things happen to the Jets so they can slag them off, can't we just get behind the team and enjoy the season ??

Jeff E. Guy
Jeff E. Guy

I agree. If Ryan is fired because the Jets secondary is getting toasted, then the man who put that secondary together should be shown the door as well. If anything, they ought keep Ryan and sack Idjit. 

Stanley Bostitch
Stanley Bostitch

Why give Costello any air time? He's a troll, plain and simple.

greggreen
greggreen

Do people forget how bad our corner backs were last year? I think PFF had cro and milner as the 3rd and 1st worst rated corners in football. Jets still had a solid defense. Rex knows what he is doing. Let let it play out and not lose out minds over it just yet

Bent
Bent moderator

@greggreen Where'd you get those stats from?  Cro was 9th worst.  Dee was pretty much middle of the pack - about 60th out of over 100.

williamg1
williamg1

@greggreen  "Do people forget how bad our corner backs were last year? I think PFF had cro and milner as the 3rd and 1st worst rated corners in football."


And now that we have Dimitri Patterson, everything will be much improved. He was the missing link. 

a57se
a57se

@greggreen 

We gave up more points last year than any other year that Rex has coached this team...not too impressed with the teams 11th ranking which is only based on Yards allowed.

boomer
boomer

@greggreen Lets also not forget that over the last month of the season Dee was a completely different player and one of the higher ranked CBs in the league.

Stanley Bostitch
Stanley Bostitch

@a57se @Stanley Bostitch The level of sensationalism he puts out there (Ryan and Idzik should be fired if this goes south) doesn't match the facts on the ground (a rookie 3rd corner out for the year and your #1 out for a few weeks). It's an article meant to generate page views, sell newspapers, raise hackles...or in other words, troll.

Disgruntled Jets Fan
Disgruntled Jets Fan

So, you're really on the edge over the secondary?

I'm concerned, but will wait for real games to panic.

greggreen
greggreen

@a57se @greggreen as long as your offense isnt turning the ball over and constantly putting your defense in bad position  not allowing yards are gonna = limiting points 

Ron Alexander
Ron Alexander

@Stanley Bostitch @a57se Are you sure you are being objective and not just being overly sensitive as a Jet fan? A lot of the realists on this site have been complaining about Idzik since his first  draft and his bungling of this most recent free agent signing is just more gas on the fire. He has now drafted 19 players and to date only one has distinguished himself as a clear cut piece of the puzzle.The rest are very questionable at this point and many of those questions are thus far disappointments.With over 30 million in cap space and zero proven commodities at the corner position and a dozen free agents who were available in free agency Izzy chose to shop in the bargain bin and then draft a kid who most pundits projected to be a 5th or 6th round value in the 3rd round despite his extensive injury history. So yes i do feel he needs to be held accountable if this season turns into a disaster of his making.

williamg1
williamg1

Well, as of right now, do you feel our CB situation is better than last year? I don't. 

Joe Corderi
Joe Corderi

@greggreen @a57se I absolutely agree.  Between giving opponents a short field and the 3 and outs, it seemed like our defense was on the field more than they should have.  Stats may prove differently but I'm just going from the eyeball test.  It has to deflate and hurt the effectiveness of a defense when the offense was as inept as ours was for the most part of last year.

Disgruntled Jets Fan
Disgruntled Jets Fan

Is there any site out there that has data available for each drive? Here's a stat I'd like to see:

AVG per drive of (yards allowed / yards to end zone from starting position)

a57se
a57se

@greggreen @a57se 

Oh, I think it is good that we were 11th in yards allowed but even that is a decline from every other Rex defense with the Jets...

nickballs
nickballs

@a57se @Stanley Bostitch Stan, be careful.....A57 fully agrees with Costello that Idzik must go for not getting a corner......after all, Idzik had 1 season under his belt...fire him..cuz Costello and 57 said so

Joe/Orlando
Joe/Orlando

@williamg1 I'm pretty skeptical of the corner situation as well, but I think the floor is "probably not that much worse than last year" and we did have a pretty good D overall last year in spite of the secondary. We also may end up with better safety play, making the secondary as a whole the same or even better than last year even if things continue to look like they do now at CB. That and a somewhat improved offense could be "good enough".


I do think Idzik should have done a better job at addressing corner though. I'm as interested as anyone to see what Allen can do but we shouldn't be in this position.

Brendan
Brendan

@williamg1 Yes. 


Dee another year grown, Cro is addition by subtraction, Patterson is good if he's healthy (and if he's not, whatever replaces him won't be worse than 2013 Cro). 

greggreen
greggreen

@williamg1 did you see cromarti play last year? take the name of the jersey, he was terrible. Patterson only has to be better than that for the defense to improve. 

a57se
a57se

@Joe Corderi @greggreen @a57se 

Statistically, our offense was just as bad in 2012 but our defense was ranked higher and we gave up a few less points...

williamg1
williamg1

@Disgruntled Jets Fan I wish there was a site that measured the emotional toll offensive turnovers have on a defense. 

It seemed to me the defense would be really strong, right up until Geno throws a few ints, and then they'd loosen up. 

It has to feel like you've battled for territory in war, seized it, and then your reinforcements lose that territory. And now its your job to win it back. 

Hector Rodriguez II
Hector Rodriguez II

We had 7 new starters on defense... & a hurt Cro. DB's have to step up & our front 7 must take that next step in its evolution. We won't be great... but we will be fine. Rex & Thurm will have us ready, I'm confident they will make the appropriate adjustments. Go Jets! Oh & by the way... The JETS are going to the Super Bowl! Have I mentioned that to U guys?!

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se But think about that for a moment. His defense, littered with youth, was the worst it's ever been while still being in the top 1/3 in the league. 

a57se
a57se

@Stanley Bostitch @a57se 

I thought he made a very valid point that if the defense falters this season and the team doesn't achieve the playoffs, that Idzik should be held as responsible as rex...

that seems pretty fair to me.

williamg1
williamg1

@Joe/Orlando @williamg1


Joe, think about that: CB had to be one of our top priorities this offseason, and after $50M available, a deep pool of FA corners available, and 12 draft picks, and we're saying...


"probably not that much worse than last year" 



Joe Corderi
Joe Corderi

@a57se @Joe Corderi @greggreen I figured the stats may not support what I thought I saw.  It just seemed to me there were too many times that the D came right back on the field after a 3 and out or TO.  Do you know how we stacked up in the 3 and out ranking?

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se I think that had a lot to do with turnovers, or lack thereof by the defense last year. 

Disgruntled Jets Fan
Disgruntled Jets Fan

I'll say this though: we were 25th in 3-and-outs per drive, just 20.9%. That had to kill Rex.

Disgruntled Jets Fan
Disgruntled Jets Fan

So that at least says that normalized by starting LOS, jets are probably in the top 10. I'd love to get those actual stats though.

bharper42
bharper42

@a57se @Stanley Bostitch Why isn't the defense faltering rex's fault?  The only change is cro gone and patterson in.  Could anyone play as bad as cro did last year?


It's a wash right now but we'll see.


The only fault idzik has is being stingy and cheap and signing patterson instead of signing someone else. 


All the cap room just sitting there.


And why draft mcdougle so high when he could've been taken later imo.  Lots of quality WR were still available.


Idzik is here to build a perenial winner not worry if rex stays another couple years.  All that cap i would've liked to use but i understand the future is more important.


Fire ryan but not idzik.  


Costello's point is just sensational and trolling.

bklyndude
bklyndude

@a57se @Stanley Bostitch

Shouldn't the GM's grade be based on the blueprint laid out to the ownership when he accepted the job.

It doesn't seem fair that some journalist can decide whether or not the team making the playoffs is the only standard by which the GM should be judged.  Just by watching John Idzik's patience this past off season,  it would not appear he is acting like somebody worried about being fired after this season.  

It seems by staying under the salary cap he certainly has a long term plan in effect.

a57se
a57se

@Disgruntled Jets Fan 

That was a function of the secondary playing so bad...last night watching the Jaguars reminded me of the Jets.

They stopped first and second down runs for no gain, then gave up a 25 yard pass on third down...

greggreen
greggreen

@Disgruntled Jets Fan its difficult to be a dominating defense when. You're on the field the majority of the time and are consistently put into a position where you have to defend less then half the field

Ron Alexander
Ron Alexander

@bharper42 @a57se @Stanley Bostitch If Izzy's job is to build a sustainable winner he's off to a bad start with only one of his first 19 picks being a clear cut piece of the puzzle and the other 18 very questionable at this point.

Ron Alexander
Ron Alexander

@bklyndude @a57se @Stanley Bostitch I keep hearing about this so called Idzik blue print or master plan? Other than doing his best Sandy Alderson impersonation I'm still trying to figure out what this so called plan is? Isn't the idea to draft well and sign selective quality free agents to fill holes in key positions? So far the drafting well part is shaky at best as only one of his 19 picks has established himself and the selective free agent thing is even worse unless your a big Willie Colon fan or you think Eric Decker is going to turn into Megatron?

nickballs
nickballs

@greggreen @williamg1 and AA cant be worse than Cro was last year ......i also find it hysterical that the same people on here that were destroying Cro are now pining for him and whining that we didnt resign him......being hypocritical is awesome

Disgruntled Jets Fan
Disgruntled Jets Fan

It's not even the amount of time, it's the short field and the number of drives.

a57se
a57se

@greggreen @Disgruntled Jets Fan 

That is a lot of peolpes perception bu Bent has shown us that that perception is not reality...I don't recall the exact percentages but the Jets were middle of the pack when it came to the amount of time the defense was on the field.

The Jets ran the ball a lot last year which eats up more clock then throwing incompletions...

Disgruntled Jets Fan
Disgruntled Jets Fan

I'm not talking about overall rank. Just the specific stat I was talking about.

williamg1
williamg1

@nickballs 


"AA cant be worse than Cro was last year"


Yes he can. 

And your defense is an indictment. We had a glaring weakness, and after $50M and 12 draft picks, we come away with "at least they won't be as Cro was last year."


Haha. That's just insane.